Well, that was the toughest 21K yet.
Originally, this New Balance run was supposed to serve as a tune-up race for WRT. But then, Ondoy visited our country. Thus, Extribe had to reschedule the race to November 29. Coming off a good run at the KOTR, I wanted to see if I could maintain a consistent performance at a half-marathon distance.
I positioned myself out in front and before I knew it the bugle horn sounded signaling the start of the race. My personal best for a 21k was 1:45:57 that was set early this year at Condura. I guess it must have been a dream of some sort or an aberration because I can’t seem to muster the same effort/success in the succeeding races. At the outset, I knew it would be difficult to set a new PB in this race considering the hilly terrain. But then, will never know unless I give it a try, right? 🙂
For the initial kilometers into the International School area, I was maintaining a 5 min/km pace. It was dark when we started and it was pretty cool which certainly helped in maintaining the pace. The route towards the IS area was a new one and I welcomed the new sights around the Fort. Pretty soon, I found myself pacing with a familiar participant, Belle Grandinetti. During the last duathlon at Subic, we ran pretty much the same pace for the first run.
There were markings for every kilometer that we passed and it helped me gauge my pace throughout the race. I felt a good rhythm and tried to maintain it through the rolling terrain at Lawton Avenue. Jumbo and Bombee of Tri Clark passed me right after Essensa as we made our way towards Bayani Road. In the past, the marshals would have the participants turn left once we hit Bayani Road. In this race, however, we had to go on straight and make a U-Turn further down Lawton Avenue before coming back and making a right turn at Bayani Road. The next turnaround point would be just before C-5. And I guess these little bit of changes in the usual Fort route took its toll on me as I found myself slowing down as I entered McKinley Hill. It was at this point where the race became a mental challenge for me.
After going down the initial hill, the participants had to turn right and ran on cemented roads. Didn’t like the pounding it gave me. In fact, I was really hoping that the marshals would point left going back to the Fort when I made my way back to the main road. I was already running to a crawl at this point dreading that killer hill at the C-5 turnaround. It was a good thing though that the turnaround came much earlier than I expected – just before the Korean School. It was all the push I needed to get me over the last hill back to Lawton Avenue.
By this time, I was probably doing 5:30 min/km pace and I was just hoping that the race be over and done with. Training buddy Norman came up beside me just before Essensa and I told him to go ahead because I was already spent. When I saw the 20km marker, I tried my best to muster a sprint finish. Well, at least to me it felt like a sprint. But I knew I was just lugging my ass towards the finish. Finally finished at 1:48:16 by my watch.
Congrats to Extribe for a well-organized race. Challenging 21k course inside the Fort. Unique set-up of 2 start/finish banners for better crowd control. Looking forward to going back to Clark next year to take on the 25k challenge once again.
Next: Powerade Duathlon Final Leg